PETE FIRMAN INTERVIEW
So what is a “Comedy Magician”? Just ask Yorkshireman Pete Firman! Star of TV’s “The Magicians,” Pete has been performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the past ten years. Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Pete deftly tackles a deluge of “tricky” questions…
Hi Pete, how are things, and how has 2016 treated you so far?
Very well, thank you! It’s been a great year so far. I’ve made a new TV show for ITV called “The Next Great Magician.” I’ve also celebrated ten consecutive years at the Edinburgh Fringe. My UK tour is the icing on the cake.
Did you have any interest in magic prior to your mum buying you a magic book?
I suppose I must have enjoyed watching magic shows on TV when I was kid. I got a magic set when I was eight, and a book shortly after, but I don’t remember asking for them. Good job my Mum and Dad took a chance on them!
Which tricks initially caught your attention when you first started out?
I liked all the big tricks when I first started. It was the spectacular stuff that fascinated me. As I went on, I began to become more interested in the smaller things that were clearly brought about by the great skill of the performer, rather than pyrotechnics and production values.
Were you exposed to much magic on TV as a kid?
Lots! I used to like watching Paul Daniels, but also The Great Soprendo on “Crackerjack,” and Wayne Dobson, who had his own show. In the eighties, there was lots of magic on television… in big, primetime slots.
Once your interest in magic had been piqued, was it a case of practicing book-learnt tricks every single night until you’d mastered each in turn?
A little bit at first. It was one hobby amongst many that I had as a kid, but it was definitely my main one. Magic is a little bit odd, as you can only rehearse so much alone; after that, you just have to perform a new trick as much as possible in front of people. As a result, I was always bothering friends and family to “pick a card”!
Back then, as a child, did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine becoming a fully-fledged magician who would go on to perform in theatres and on TV to the extent that you do?
It didn’t enter my head! I wanted to be an actor as a kid. Being a magician professionally has sort of happened by accident!
So what was it like growing up in Middlesbrough?
Great! I’ve got fond memories of the place.
You went on to study in Scarborough. What was your course like, and were you not tempted to stay “beside the seaside” after graduating?
I loved being in Scarborough as a student. It was nice to be by the sea, and the town was a great place to hang out. I might have stayed there after graduating, but an opportunity came up that I couldn’t turn down…
Oh, go on…
I saw a “Wanted” advert online that had been posted by a TV production company. They were looking for young magicians for a TV magic show called “Monkey Magic.” I made a silly little teaser video and sent it to them. They liked it, invited me to London, and I got the gig! A couple of weeks later, I moved down there to make it, and I stayed!
Which celebrity magicians do you most admire, and why?
So many! I’m a huge Penn & Teller fan. Their approach to magic, and the material they create, is so unique. Their Las Vegas show is the best live magic show I’ve ever seen.
What prompted you to vault down the “comedy magic” route as opposed to the “straight magic” route?
I’m not a big fan of “serious magic.” Plus, I think it’s very important that the performance be a reflection of the person. Even as a kid, I was trying to make the tricks I was doing “fun.” Upping the comedy, and making that go hand-in-hand with the magic, seemed like the best way to go.
You’ve travelled all over the world, interviewing some of the world’s most talented magicians. Would you say that your level of proficiency as a magician has improved even more as a result of meeting, watching and chatting with such magicians?
I think in any profession, you are always learning, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with some of the very best in magic. Whenever I’m with those people, I just shut up and listen, and try to take in as much as possible.
So tell is a little about your “TriX” tour. What can people who are coming to see your show expect?
Comedy, magic, unexplainable acts; there’s so much variety in the show, from sleight-of-hand to mind-reading, along with some bigger illusions. For example, I make a lady float in the air. I’ll repeat that: I make a lady FLOAT IN THE AIR. It’s worth seeing the show just for that!
Finally, how can people find out more about you and your magic?
Pete Firman will be performing at Hull Truck Theatre on 13th November. Visit www.hulltruck.co.uk for more information and tickets